Mindset

How to Feel Proud of Yourself

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No matter what you do, it never quite feels good enough, does it?

You may be growing a career, plodding your way through a difficult university course, or rearing a brood of children…it doesn’t matter what forum of life we’re talking about. In everything you do, you’re nagged by the sense that your efforts aren’t quite good enough.

Today, I am writing specifically for a few of my clients who struggle with this lack of self-belief, knowing that at least a handful of my readers (if not more), will know exactly what I’m talking about.

You see, so many people, and none more than those with ADHD, struggle with the notion that they should be doing better than they are. They should have gotten a better grade. They should have a better paid job. They should be a more patient parent, with exemplary kids, who excel in all they do.

I have felt this sense of “less-than” on many occasions. For example, I worked my butt off on my Post-Graduate dissertation and was rewarded with merit – only a few points short of a distinction mark.

A few of my classmates did get distinctions. I should have been celebrating my achievement but instead I was disgruntled with myself. I was just as smart as them, wasn’t I? Why wasn’t my best effort good enough to raise my work to the status my colleagues achieved? My topic was original and poignant, I nailed the arguments, used all the right language and references….

But somebody didn’t think it was good enough.

But actually – a merit is pretty good. In fact, just passing the course was quite an achievement. And heck – even being enrolled and showing up for the classes was quite a feat. When I come to think of it, my essay writing involved a grotesque process, with coffee-stained papers littering my living room for days, garbage piling up in the corners of the room, maintaining the upkeep of the resident mice in my South London flat. It was utter chaos. I should have been proud that I even handed that 10,000-word whopper in. Yet I was dismayed that I didn’t get the best mark. Not by a long shot.

It’s because, secretly, I never felt like I was good enough to be taking part in that Post-Grad in the first place. I felt like a fraud, rising above my station. In my mind, I had to do the best, in order to prove I was worthy. Anything less than best would show me up.

Well, I guess I got showed up. And what has it meant to my life since then?

Nada.

It’s ridiculous when I think of it. But we all apply this logic to our thinking at times.

It’s called “focusing on the outcome”. As in: I’ll be good enough when I am successful. Or when I am rich. Or when my kids are successful. Or when I get to the top of the corporate latter.

But “when” never comes. The bar we measure ourselves against lifts itself higher and higher.

I realize, as I write this, this topic is not unique. But I’m writing about it anyway, because I feel I’ve got to say this:

My ADD comrades – they tend to judge themselves extremely harshly. I know many ADDers who feel like they have to work harder and do better than everyone else, just so they can feel good enough. Note what I just said: good enough. They don’t want to feel better than everyone else. But the only way they get to feel like equals, is to excel.

Not really a fair contest is it?

We’ve all had plenty of reasons to feel “not-good-enough”. Always late. Never paying attention. Breaking things. Failing classes. Losing jobs….When our lives are dotted with experiences like these, how can we learn to feel proud of ourselves? Or, at the very least, like we are good enough?

Go back in time. Somewhere along the line, that message was fed to you like an airplane-spoon full of porridge into a baby’s mouth. Somebody or somebodies made you feel like you didn’t measure up to what was expected of you. They made you feel screwed up.

But when you look over these times, you’ll always ignore one fact. Those people who made you feel screwed up… were just as screwed up themselves. They’d been elevated to status of judge-jury-and-executor when they had no right to have that kind of influence over your entire self-perception. Those in glass houses, right? But it didn’t matter – their perceptions hooked your psyche like fishing in a barrel.

But the truth is – we’re all screwed up. Every. Single. Person.

So what’s there to feel proud of?

Feel proud of your efforts. Not of the outcome, but of your efforts. Feel proud that you showed up and did the work. That you tried, even when the trying got hard. That you pushed yourself past your own limits. That you learned when you messed up. That you learned some more when you messed up again. That you kept trying. Whether or not anyone noticed it. Whether or not you got that grade. That bonus. That promotion. That whatever.

Those things do not define your worth as a person. They are only minor benchmarks in the timeline of your life span. When you measure yourself – only against yourself – and focus only on the effort you make each step of the way… that’s when you get to feel the kind of pride in yourself that never goes away.

Tell me today: what are you proud of?

Creativity

Have You Lost Your Magic and Can You Get it Back?

magic

In a poignant post I read awhile back, Austin Kleon urged us to keep it light and remember to do what comes naturally. He was referring to writers and artists who want to be taken more seriously. Sometimes in pursuit of mastery we can lose that spark of magic that makes us unique.

The advice could be applied to anyone. We’ve all had experiences that sap our spark. When we fail a college entrance exam. When produce a piece of work that nobody cares about. When embarrassed parents shun our silliness. When we do something really cool and awesome and special but nobody claps. Or nods. Or even smiles. Not even the tumbleweed.

We’re sensitive little souls, us creative-types. We create stuff because it’s who we are. But we cling to external validation so we can feel like we’re acceptable.

Please smile. Please clap. Please say “well done”, so I can feel like I matter. Because I don’t – feel like I matter.

That’s when we lose the magic.

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When we decide that the magic is in being accepted. As if Renoir or Mozart are only magical because a bunch of people of people decided their work was worth seeing. (Posthumously, mostly.)

I didn’t know Renoir or Mozart personally- they’re quite a bit older than me. But I could make an educated guess that acceptance wasn’t a big consideration in their creative head-spaces. If I run into them in the afterlife I’ll check for accuracy, but for now let’s suppose my theory is true.

It’s not about what you get back, in terms of praise, it’s about what you put out. Ryan Holiday is spot on when he suggests:

It’s far better (and more resilient) when doing good work is sufficient. In other words, the less attached we are to outcomes the better.

When fulfilling our own standards is what fills us with pride and self-respect. When the effort—not the results, good or bad—is enough.

We lose our magic when we play it safe. We dampen down our spirit to be less annoying but end up dull. We take the so-called “sure path” to success and end up on a grid-locked road full of other play-it-safers. We censor our words so we don’t look stupid and end up saying nothing important at all.

We stop being light and doing what comes naturally.

True magic lies in authenticity. It takes courage to be authentic and try new things, regardless if we’ll be met with applause or thumbs down. But without authenticity, without letting your all your best stuff shine even if your best stuff could be crap… You risk becoming something much, much worse:

Stale and unoriginal.

Creativity

50 Inspirational Quotes for ADDers to Live By

If I am completely honest with you, which I always am, doing this post today makes me feel like a bit of a rip-off artist.

For a couple of reasons. Firstly, doing a compendium of inspirational quotes is hardly an original idea. If you’re not an avid blog reader you’ll have to trust me when I say this topic has been done literally thousands of times before. Put it this way: an post about quotes is to blogging what a banana peel and an idiot are to slapstick comedy. Cliche.

The other reason it makes me feel like a swindler is a pretty obvious one, but I’ll point it out anyway. I am creating a post almost fully comprised of other people’s words. It’s like plagiarism – only justified through the use of proper punctuation.

So why do it?

You know me (you do by now, don’t you?) – I am eternally transparent and honest about what I am thinking and doing. I am also pretty upfront about why I write what I write. So here is the explanation.

There are no original ideas these days. Everything you read, whether through the medium of books, blogs, newspapers or the back of shampoo bottles – has all been thought of before. However, the ingenuity of literature comes not from the idea itself, but how its presented or dressed-up, if you will. Old ideas continue to be fresh and relevant when you put your own stamp on them.

Of course there are some original ideas hanging around in the creative jungle waiting to be snared, but I can’t think of any because… no one has thought of them yet. If you don’t quite follow me, close your eyes and try to imagine a brand-new, completely original colour – one that’s never been seen before. (I’ll give you a few minutes to scan your cerebrum…)

You see what I mean?

What we imagine or create is a combination of things we have already witnessed, but the way we combine those things is unique to ourselves.

So I can create my own rendition of a quotation-round-up post, but what about the fact that a bulk of the content, or in essence the storyline of this post, has been created primarily by the words of other people?

I have no excuse other than the fact that I love quotes. Apparently, so do a lot of other people, or bloggers at least.

To me, an inspirational quote is not merely a statement grazed from some famous person’s speech or an abridged form of a celebrated soliloquy. It is a concise, well-composed statement that powerfully articulates an important concept, one that is spoken by … anyone. Famous or not. I may have generated one of two inspirational “quotes” in my time. I’m almost certain that you will have too, whether or not you realize it. It’s not who says it that’s important, it’s what’s said.

The power of the inspirational quote is that, by employing a few carefully chosen and arranged words, it conveys a much bigger message in a single dose. Quotes can move you or simply make you laugh. They can motivate you, help you switch perspectives, or even shift entrenched emotional states. They can make you feel validated, vindicated, understood. They can innervate, intrigue, and inspire you to be in a different state, even if for just a moment.

Inspirational quotes make an effect on you, and they do it with very few words (“unlike me”, I’m thinking).

They are like self-help in a shot-glass. Like injectable therapy. The ultimate philosophy-hack.

That’s why they are wonderful for us ADDers. We like things with a kick – short, sharp, quick and powerful. We like short-cuts. We are drawn to metaphors that evoke vivid imagery. Many of us also have a love of language and play with words like they’re a form of linguistic Lego – quotes can be a fun and engaging way to inspire us.

But most importantly, there are times in life that we ADDers really need some inspiration. Or motivation. And certainly validation.

So without any further ado, firm in the belief that I have sufficiently defended my decision to “sell-out” with this cliché post, I present to you my top 50 quotes that every ADDer should live by.

Because this post will end up being a bazillion words, I have cataloged them according to the conditions for which they are most useful. You don’t need to read the whole post. Chances are good I have lost your attention already … (c’mon my ADD friend, don’t you realize I know you too?!)

Even if you don’t read the whole thing – make sure to skip to the comments at the end and share with me some of your favourite inspirational quotes. In fact, I even challenge you to create one or two of your own quotes and share them. If you’re worried about what other people will think, don’t – I have a quote for that too 🙂

Strength, Perseverance, and Overcoming Challenges

For those times when we feel like everything is impossible for us and are fed up with working so hard to do things that come easily to others. A few reminders that the daily trials and tribulations are what build our characters, give us strength and flexibility, and shape our determination.

“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.” Norman Vincent Peale

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”Art Linkletter

“Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.” J. Willard Marriott

“The human spirit is never finished when it is defeated… it is finished when it surrenders.” Ben Stein

“It is not what happens to you that determines how far you go in life; it is what you do with what happens to you.” Zig Ziglar

“Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.” Muhammad Ali

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Risking the Humiliation of Failure

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For those times when by reaching for our dreams, living our adventures, or expressing our souls, we open ourselves up to the vulnerability and pain of possible failure, knowing that without that risk there can be no success.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream.”

“… often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement.” Florence Scovel Shinn

“Behold the turtle: He only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.” James Bryant Conant

“I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why . . . I succeed.” Michael Jordan

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

“You miss a 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky

“Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.” George E. Woodberry

“I don’t think there’s any artist of any value who doesn’t doubt what they’re doing.”
Francis Ford Coppola

 

Being the Boss of Your Mind

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As we reside in our minds, we must remember that we are also the CEO of them. We lead the direction our minds take, and everything in life is experienced through our state of mind.

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” Zig Ziglar

“Never tell yourself … I can’t go on. If you do you’re licked, and by your own thinking too.” Norman Vincent Peale

“The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your state of mind.” Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” Warren Buffett

“You become what you think about.” Earl Nightingale

“Some people have a negative attitude, and that’s their disability.” Marla Runyan

“If I shall have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens

“The last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl

“Happiness is to be found along the way, not at the end of the road, for then the journey is over and it is too late. Today, this hour, this minute is the day, the hour, the minute for each of us to sense the fact that life is good, with all of its trials and troubles, and perhaps more interesting because of them.” Robert R. Updegraff

“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.” Albert Einstein

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” Charles Kingsley

“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
William Shakespeare

Giving Yourself the Present

To help us never forget our being while we’re so busy doing and thinking.

“Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.” William Feather

“I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” Abraham Maslow

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.” Thomas Merton

Going With the ADHD Flow

For when we are finally ready to give up being normal, and ready to be wonderfully, gloriously, successfully ADD.

“Work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” Napoleon Hill

“To be upset about what you don’t have is to waste what you do have.” Ken Keyes, Jr.

“Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.” Denis Waitley

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they cannot find them, make them.” George Bernard Shaw

 

The Positive Symptoms

The yin and yang of ADD – reminders that not all the symptoms are always bad all of the time. To help us remember that sometimes a strength can come as a side effect of a “deficit”

“When your desires are strong enough you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve.” Napoleon Hill

“It’s always fun to do the impossible.” Walt Disney

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Helen Keller

“The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.” H.G. Wells

“Thinking: the talking of the soul with itself.” Plato

“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.” Napoleon Bonaparte

“Some say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” John Lennon.

 

Dancing to Your Own Drumbeat

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No matter what other people think or how they may judge you or how you live your life – remember that you are the leading actor in the starring role of your life; they are merely supporting characters. There is no shame in authenticity but conformity for the sole purpose of fitting in, even when it goes against your true character, is negligent to the soul.

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires…courage.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
George S. Patton

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” Judy Garland

“Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.”
W. Somerset Maugham

“Art is either plagiarism or revolution.”
Paul Gauguin

“The two worst strategic mistakes to make are acting prematurely and letting an opportunity slip; to avoid this, the warrior treats each situation as if it were unique and never resorts to formulae, recipes or other people’s opinions.”Paulo Coelho

 

I hope you enjoyed – let me know your thoughts and share your own inspiration in the comments below!